Thursday, July 28, 2011

Do you remember the first time you read on your own?

I don't - but I do remember the first time I noticed punctuation! Those funny squiggly marks had been there all along, but one day, while reading a print version of Bambi, they suddenly leapt off the page and into my consciousness!

The Geisel Award, named in honor of Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss), honors the beginning reader format: books that are powerfully important in the early stages of a reader's life. They may appear "easy," and yet it requires enormous skill to craft a book that weaves an interesting plot peopled by engaging characters using only simple vocabulary.

At the American Library Association annual conference in New Orleans last month, I was moved by the acceptance speeches given by Kate DiCamillo, Alison McGhee and Tony Fucile, who together created this year's charming Geisel Award winner, Bink & Gollie. They spoke eloquently about the magic of the first time you read independently and whole new worlds open up!

Alison McGhee also shared a humorous tale about her son, who as a small boy passionately loved Munro Leaf's classic The Story of Ferdinand. He called one day to excitedly announce to his mother that he'd gotten a tattoo - but one that she would love! She was doubtful about this, but he eagerly went on to explain that it was a tattoo of - you guessed it - Ferdinand the bull! Talk about one's early reading making an indelible impression!

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